Press release

Rare survivors from Britain’s First World War Aviation Heritage are ‘Listed’ by John Penrose

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain’s first line of defence against German Zeppelins and bombers, and base for protection of London against first-ever air raids will now be protected for future generations

The historic Stow Maries First World War airfield and 24 associated buildings have been given Grade II* listed status by Heritage Minister John Penrose, on the advice of English Heritage.

The aerodrome, created in 1914 at the outbreak of war, was one of a number established in the south east to defend London from German Zeppelin airships and, after June 1917, Gotha bombers.  It served as a base for B-Flight, part of the 37th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corp, led by Lt. Claude Ridley, who was just 19 when he took command.

John Penrose said:

“Stow Maries is a rare survivor of our First World War military heritage.  It reminds us that, along with everything else, the war also saw the birth of the RAF and the very first aerial raids on the capital.  The heroism of the first military fliers - and the ultimate sacrifice that so many made - is rightly commemorated every year on Armistice Day.  It is fitting that this poignant reminder of the conditions in which they worked is also preserved.

“I am listing Stow Maries to recognise its rarity, its architectural interest, its value as a group and also, of course, for its historical importance as the first line of defence against German air raids, in a conflict the centenary of which we will soon be marking.”

Dr Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive said:

“The importance of Stow Maries is amplified by the approaching 100th anniversary of the Great War. It is in a remarkable state of preservation, full of historic interest and of great educational potential.  Ten of the pilots who flew out of Stow Maries lost their lives, and the airfield is an eloquent reminder of the bravery and sacrifices of the pilots of WWl, of the earliest days of aerial combat, and the origins and proud tradition of the RAF.”

Notes to Editors

Copies of the English Heritage (EH) inspector’s report along with photos of both properties are available from the EH press office on 0207 973 3855.

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